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Spencer couple’s scholarship helps students and the environment

March 13, 2018

Establishing an educational scholarship fund can be a meaningful way to give back to your local community and to honor a loved one. Dwight and Bev Rutter, of rural Spencer, who are known for thinking outside the box, are accomplishing both at Iowa Lakes Community College.

The couple’s first son, Jason, passed away in January 2002, at the age of 28.

Two months later, the Rutters established The Prairie Flower, a limited liability company specializing in local ecotype native prairie and wetland plants and seeds.

“Ours is a very poor farm,” Bev said. “So, it’s very well suited to native plants rather than the traditional corn and soybeans.”

Over the decades, the couple has done a lot with their farm. 

Starting in 2002 with a mere 40 acres of rough farmland, the Rutters have grown to nearly 600 acres that is currently seeded down to native prairie and plants. A winding Little Sioux River runs through it, which inspired them to restore a wetland, add seven ponds, and establish five miles of mowed trails that many people traverse on guided tours of their property.

The Prairie Flower enables Dwight and Bev Rutter to collect and sell valuable seed and plants from their native prairie. Both are featured in lakeshore reinforcement projects around the Iowa Great Lakes, in rain gardens and plantings at the Spencer Public Library and Avera Medical Group Spencer, in a recent biosoils project accomplished near the Dodecagon Plaza in Spencer, and in new housing developments in the towns of Storm Lake and Carroll.

Other services offered by the couple via The Prairie Flower include tree plantings, seedings, ecological consulting and planning, natural land management and landscaping.

In addition to working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Spirit Lake, the Dickinson County Clean Water Alliance and Trees Forever, the sustainable duo have been key players in the ongoing restoration and rebuilding efforts of Mapleton following an April 2011 tornado that ravaged the northwest Iowa community.

Why do Dwight and Bev Rutter continue to do what they do?

“Because we believe in conserving our natural resources and we want clean water,” Dwight answered.

The Rutters’ belief in sharing these precious things with others is also evident since 2008, when they began hosting young adults via Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. The organization “links volunteers with organic farmers and growers to promote cultural and educational experiences based on trust and non-monetary exchange, thereby helping to build a sustainable global community.”

Their educational convictions took hold even more in 2015, when they heard Tony Condon, Iowa Lakes institutional advancement manager, and Jane Campbell, executive director of marketing for Iowa Lakes, speak about scholarships at a Business Before Hours gathering at Iowa Lakes in Spencer.

“We had talked for years about doing something to honor our son, Jason,” Bev said. “After Tony talked about establishing a scholarship that morning, I told Jane she needed to have someone get ahold of us because that is exactly what we wanted to do.”

The Dwight and Bev Rutter Environmental Scholarship became available to Iowa Lakes students during the October 2015 scholarship process. The $500 scholarship is awarded twice each year and targets students in the Environmental Studies program and the Water Quality and Sustainable Aquatic Resources program.

Candidates must complete the Iowa Lakes online scholarship application and be enrolled as a full-time student. In addition, they must reside in Iowa.

For more information about the Dwight and Bev Rutter Environmental Scholarship, please contact the Iowa Lakes Institutional Advancement office at 712-362-0410 or 800-242-5106.

Additional information on The Prairie Flower is available online at:

Dwight and Bev Rutter, of rural Spencer, fund an environmental scholarship for Iowa Lakes Community College students.
Dwight and Bev Rutter, of rural Spencer, fund an environmental scholarship for Iowa Lakes Community College students.

For More Information:

Iowa Lakes marketing office at 712-362-7944

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